Shortly after starting his term as the new administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah initiated his own reform agenda. Dubbed USAID Forward, the initiative hinges on three underlying principles:
▪ Deliver results on a meaningful scale through a strengthened USAID.
▪ Promote sustainable development through high-impact partnerships.
▪ Identify and scale up innovative, breakthrough solutions to intractable development problems.
Of these three points, the push to develop stronger partnerships has drawn the most attention from the development community, as it entails increasing USAID engagement with local implementers in partner countries. In sync with many leading voices in the U.S development community, USAID officials made the case that the premier U.S. aid agency must increase its investments in local institutions in order to build local capacity and strengthen country ownership.
Last year, Shah claimed the agency awarded $745 million worth of contracts to local institutions in 2012, up 50 percent from 2010. At the same time, a number of U.S. small businesses have told Devex that they have been finding it harder to win USAID projects — a direct consequence, they say, of USAID Forward.
Against the backdrop of budget concerns in Washington, USAID Forward’s commitment to deliver results is also under increasing scrutiny. According to USAID officials, the agency has begun to streamline and strengthen its competitive processes in order to ensure results and also achieve value for money. In the past, the U.S. aid agency has drawn criticism from some implementers for delays and bureaucratic hurdles in its procurement process.
The infographic below provides a basic guide to USAID’s acquisition and assistance processes.
Join the Devex community and access more in-depth analysis, breaking news and business advice — and a host of other services — on international development, humanitarian aid and global health.